There comes a point in our life where we yearn for new experiences, a change of scenery and the chance to say, “I’m exactly where I wanted to be.” Unfortunately, not everyone is given that opportunity and they end up settling for the next best thing: A life forever lived in a bubble; a mediocre reality that lacks challenge and excitement. Max Kaplan, 23, wasn’t going to have any of that.
Max knew exactly that New York City was where he wanted to end up. “I’m from a small town in Pennsylvania and felt that it wasn’t exactly an environment with upward mobility,” he shared. After studying and developing a new persona with a broader world view at Chestnut Hill College, a small liberal arts college in Philadelphia, he took the plunge and moved to New York for a temp job on 24 hours’ notice – with only two suitcases in tow. And the rest, as the old clichéd saying goes, is history.
Today, this style savvy gent is not only living it up in New York as a social media manager (who wouldn’t love a full-time social media job??), he’s also responsible for co-founding the International Quidditch Association and curating the finest selection of GIFs from the Internet (a fine talent, if I say so myself). So read up and learn more about Max, his experiences and his beloved city of New York.
Hi Max! Could you tell us about yourself and what you do?
Hi there! First off, it’s a pleasure to be featured on Alphabeticalife. Thanks for the opportunity. I am the social media manager for a boutique marketing agency in New York City, where I oversee social media campaigns from concept to execution. I manage editorial calendars, create banks of social media messages and measure social media performance and ROI for our clients. They range from local companies to global brands, so there’s never a dull moment and we’re always testing new ways to engage our audiences. Since I’m a creative at heart, I love being in a field that allows me to fit my zany, quirky side into a larger marketing framework. In the past, I’ve done everything from newspaper writing to being a personal shopper for J.Crew, so the unpredictable nature of social media is exactly what I was looking for.
Could you talk a bit about your personal style? Being a recent New York City transplant, how do you think it has affected the way you dress?
My style is a mishmash of statement pieces that I love, held together by staples to pair them with. I find inspiration in too many places to be pinned down to one particular style: I love the timelessness and unapologetic colors of traditional preppy style, but I also love the gorgeous fabrics and patterns of European style. That said, I do play favorites. My typical go-to’s are a chambray shirt (I’ve worn mine at least once a week for years), J.Crew’s 484 sun-faded chino (seven colors and counting), penny loafers or my Belstaff quilted jacket. When I want to mix things up, I incorporate more on-trend pieces like my houndstooth Stubbs and Wootton or a polka-dotted dress shirt. I also always love Blackwatch tartan for winter.
Living in any city takes a toll on your wardrobe, so investing in quality, functional pieces that can handle long walks, crowded subways and harsh weather is crucial. I’m also very heavy-footed and power-walk just about everywhere (I’m sure I look crazy), so comfort is a big factor when choosing footwear. I’ve become a big fan of Cole Haan since moving here: They’re a great price point, work well for both the office and going out and are still comfortable when I get home after a 12-hour day.
New York is the best city to live in for style-watching. I see countless people a day whose outfits make me do a double-take and give me ideas for new color combinations and ways to wear pieces. Even fanny packs have a place here (for better or for worse).
You mentioned you were photographed by Bill Cunningham during New York Fashion Week and that must have been quite an experience. What do you think drew him to you at that moment?
Indeed! The craziest part was that I didn’t realize it was Mr. Cunningham who took our photo at first. A friend and I were heading to the Jenny Packham show at New York Fashion Week when I saw a man in a cobalt jacket snap our picture as we walked by out of the corner of my eye. We turned around, realized it was him and nearly fainted. From where he took the photo, he could see that I was carrying a black leather document holder and had a few bracelets on. Men’s document holders exploded this season (although Italians have been singing their praises forever), so I think that caught his eye. I’ve always admired street-style photographers’ eye for detail. They can see things out of context and pick things out of looks that so many others might miss.
What don’t you leave home without?
In the last 10 seconds before I leave my apartment in my morning routine rush, I grab my keyring, iPhone, wallet (it holds the all-important unlimited monthly Metrocard) and my Muji tartan umbrella. On a good morning, I’ll even remember to grab my lunch from the fridge and update my New York Times app for some train reading.
The brunch culture is at a full-time high in New York. Where’s the best place to get it and what do you usually order?
It’s true! You can’t walk two blocks downtown without seeing a sign advertising brunch specials. There are a few items you see variations of on almost every menu: A dessert pancake or french toast (ricotta pancakes are the most sinful), chicken and waffles, candied bacon, and lately, some sort of “brunch salad.” My favorite brunch is at Parlor Steakhouse on the Upper East Side. It’s a beautiful Sunday-morning walk from my apartment, and the service is fantastic — the hosts always greet me by name. Their brunch pre-fixe includes five drinks (mimosas, bloodies or bellinis), but five drinks has a funny way of turning into seven or eight and before you know it, you’re stumbling home at 4PM. Since brunch should never be healthy, I order the brioche french toast with poached pears, mascarpone cheese and vanilla with a side of bacon (because what brunch is complete without it?).
There’s a million places to visit in the city. If there’s one place that a visitor should check out, where would it be and what would they find there?
A must-see is the High Line, an abandoned above-ground train track turned into a park. It’s an embodiment of so many things I love about New York: it took something derelict that was eating up valuable city space and turned it into something beautiful that can be enjoyed by everyone. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street on the West Side and has great views of the city and Hudson River. Order take-out from a cafe in the neighborhood and eat it in the park on a sunny day.
Amidst New York City’s hustle and bustle, is there a place you go to that lets you catch your breath and clear your mind?
My favorite escape is the Conservancy Garden in Central Park. It’s a few blocks from my apartment and a total hidden gem! I discovered it on a morning run and I now make a point to go as often as I can when the flowers are in bloom. It reminds me of Regent’s Park in London: Ornate iron gates, beautifully manicured gardens and shady pathways lined with benches. On Saturday mornings I head over with my newspaper and coffee in-hand for some peace and quiet. If you’re looking at a map of Central Park, the gardens are in the top-right corner.
Let’s talk retail therapy. Where do you go for some serious shopping and what’s on your current must-buy list?
Since Manhattan has some of the world’s best window shopping, I pop in shops, scope things out and often shop online during my lunch break (you should see the collection of shipping boxes stashed under my desk). If I’m downtown, I love Jeffrey — a New York institution — and of course, Topman. I spend a lot of time in the Upper East since I live uptown, so I love the Ralph Lauren men’s store (add this to your to-see list for when you visit, gents) and the J.Crew men’s shop.
My current wish list includes a pair of forest green pebbled leather driving mocs from Car Shoe, Bresciani x Monocle fair isle socks and a bright orange scarf. I live for cozy pieces in winter, so If I can wear it curled up next to my imaginary fireplace, I’ll probably buy it.
What are the top three songs that make up your perfect New York City soundtrack?
What are you thankful for at the end of the day?
I’m thankful for many things, but most especially the unending love and support of family and friends, the fantastic education I received at Chestnut Hill College and the chance to do what I love in the city I’ve wanted to live in since fourth grade.
Thank you, Max!